Many awards presentations are accused of being out of touch with the public or even appearing to be popularity contests. But I contend that many of the Pulitzer Prizes, handed out on Monday, accurately reflected the nation's growing discontent with President Bush....
The wiretapping story seems like the most compelling one of all. It has dominated the Washington talk shows for months and triggered a slew of fascinating sub-plots. The administration has contended that it needed to counter the threat of domestic terrorism while critics have said the program was a blow to civil liberties and reduced individuals' privacy.
Awards are like children -- editors, like parents, say publicly that they love them all equally. But I wouldn't be surprised if this one especially pleased the Times hierarchy.
If anything, the Pulitzer vindicates the Times as a hard-hitting and public-spirited news operation. Originally, Times' critics blasted the paper for sitting on the Risen-Lichtblau story, insisting that the newspaper appeared to be timid in the face of the Bush administration's pressure tactics. Some Bush supporters, meanwhile, promptly took the opposite point of view and concluded that the Times had committed a traitorous act by publishing the stories. Considering that this sort of intense red-blue states warfare has been going on since (at least) the 2004 presidential campaigns, it wasn't a surprise that the Times' reporting would further polarize the nation.
But that kind of parlor talk should be a secondary point today. For now, the Pulitzer selection committee deserves a big thumbs-up for getting it right this year.